ISL 2021-22: ATKMB look to secure semifinal spot with win over lowly Odisha (preview)

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ATK Mohun Bagan will look to secure a spot in the top-four with a win over lowly Odisha FC in their 2021-22 Indian Super League clash at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, here on Thursday.

ATKMB are currently at the third spot in the standings with 30 points from 16 games.

The Mariners dropped points against Kerala in a heated 2-2 draw, snapping a run of three wins on the spin. But Juan Ferrando’s men are on a 12-game unbeaten streak and have looked at their best in recent matches, even with injuries to key players.

Joni Kauko has been the one who has stepped up whenever his team has needed him to deliver, and the Finland international scored the last-gasp equaliser in the last game too, underlining his value in the side. Kauko has now been involved in five goals, netting two in the process. Along with Hugo Boumous, Kauko is the joint leading assist provider for ATKMB this season.

ATKMB have also shown a lot of character, coming back from a goal down to winning games and also eking out a point. They have mustered 11 points from losing positions this season, with only Bengaluru FC having more come-from-behind results.

Liston Colaco has continued to blossom in the green and maroon shirt, the pacy winger causing problems to almost every team’s defence and now with Manvir Singh also finding form, the duo looks deadly.

“My foreign players are not 100 percent ready. After injuries, there is a recovery. But they are improving a lot. This is the best moment of the season and they are good, if not 100 percent,” Ferrando said of his foreign contingent struggling with injuries.

On Roy Krishna returning from an injury, the Spaniard said, “We will see. He is recovering.”

Ferrando said the plan for Odisha will be the same like it has been for all the games and the focus will not be on any individual player.

“We will focus on the team as a whole and not any one player. Odisha have a good team with quality foreigners and also local players. We will prepare for the whole team and not just one player,” he said.

Odisha, meanwhile, saw their slim chances of making the semifinals go up in smoke after a 1-2 defeat to Bengaluru FC. They are placed seventh with 22 points from 18 outings. Odisha failed to keep pace with their good start to the season when it mattered, managing only one win in the last seven games.

The two teams played out a 0-0 draw the last time they met, this season but ATKMB have an unbeaten record over Odisha, winning two of the three face-offs between them in the competition with one ending in a stalemate.

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